Uganda

Uganda's president hopes rebels choose "soft landing"

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LONDON, June 4 (Reuters) - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni said on Monday he hoped the rebel Lord's Resistance Army would opt for the "soft landing" of local justice systems to atone for their crimes rather than face prosecution abroad.

The government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), one of Africa's most feared rebel groups, are in talks aimed at ending two decades of bloodshed. The LRA is accused of massacres, mutilations and mass child abductions in the conflict.

But the LRA say they will not sign any deal unless the International Criminal Court (ICC) drops indictments against their four top commanders for atrocities.

That has prompted Ugandan officials to suggest traditional reconciliation rituals as an alternative. International human rights groups are sceptical of the idea.

The ritual involves a murderer facing relatives of the victim and admitting the crime before both drink a bitter brew made from a tree root mixed with sheep's blood.

Museveni, attending an African business forum in London, told reporters: "The peace talks are good to give them a soft landing.

"They are indicted by the International Criminal Court so if they go through the peace process then we can use alternative justice, traditional justice which is a bit of a soft landing for them.

"But if they persist and they stay in exile then they will end up in The Hague for their crimes. So I hope they will have the wisdom to use the soft landing."

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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